The air is hot and humid. Its weight is pressuring on her skin, making it almost too hard to breathe. She should get going or she’ll be late. Slowly, she drags herself to the car. The radio is playing Slave to Love. The streets are almost deserted, as the city quiets down during summertime. The drive seems shorter than usual.
She leaves the car in the nearby parking spot. As she is entering the park, she greets the ice-cream seller. Standing there in his truck, he’s been guarding the park entrance for years.
“The usual?”, he asks. He hands her two vanilla scones as she nods in reply. She walks slowly to the bench close to the lake. She likes to sit on this particular bench and observe the ducks in the lake. In the meantime, the heat is getting unbearable. Not even the shade of the trees is bringing any sense of relief. As she is getting ready to indulge in her ice-cream, she notices how it hasn’t melted a tiny bit. She focuses closely on the cones in her hand, expecting to feel a drop of sweet, sugary cream on her skin at any moment.
“Hello”. She was so encompassed in her thoughts that she hasn’t noticed a small boy standing in front of her. He looks like he is about five. His hair is messy, but otherwise his look is very neat. He is wearing khaki pants and a bright orange shirt, resembling a pre-school uniform.
“Hello”, she instantly replies back. She looks around, but there is no one besides the boy. “Who are you here with?”, she asks.
“No one”, the boy replies.
“Where are you mommy and daddy?”
“I don’t have them”, the boy replies indifferently. There is something oddly familiar about the boy, but she can’t quite establish what it is.
“Who are you here with?”, the boy interrupts her thoughts before she can ask any further questions.
“Oh, I am waiting for my fiancé”.
“What’s a fia..n… ceee?”
“That’s like… that’s when two people love each other very much, but are not husband and wife yet”. She is proud of herself for explaining this tricky concept to a five year old. Not that he cares much. Instead, his focus shifts in the direction of an ice-cream cone in her hand.
“Is that one for him?”, he asks.
“You can have it if you’d like”, she smiles as she hands him the cone.
The boy seems happy with this turn of events and doesn’t waste a second to get to work. She does the same and emerges herself in the refreshing taste of vanilla in her mouth.
For a moment, it seems there’s just her and the boy in the entire park. One of ducklings catches her attention. It is struggling to get to the other side of the lake where its mommy is waiting. It would almost seem as if the duckling is trying to move upstream. As she turns around, she notices the boy has disappeared. She wants to go looking for him, but suddenly it is impossible to move. Almost like something is gluing her to the bench. She feels electrical shivers down her spine. There is a sudden gush of cold air. The sky is getting darker. The storm is coming, or so it seems. She should probably get going. Her man didn’t show up.
She manages to find some strength to get up. The air is getting colder. An uncomfortable sensation gives her goosebumps. She turns around, having thought she heard voices in the distance. But there is no one but her anywhere in her line of sight. The park is completely silent. And then the words appear from the distance. “Accident… M1 motorway”. The voices seem distorted and disconnected. She listens more closely. “One dead.. one comatose”. She starts shivering. She tries to shake off this dreadful feeling and begins to walk faster. It is starting to get really cold and now she is almost running back to the car.
She starts the car. The same tune is still playing on the radio. It seems the storm has turned the other way and the sky is beginning to clear again. He would enjoy seeing the sun breaking through from behind the clouds. Today he didn’t come. Maybe he will tomorrow.
She’ll be waiting in the usual place.